Posts Tagged ‘Torrontes’

Go on – Uncork a bottle of Malbec today!

Posted by Debbie

Monday, April 16th, 2012
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Today marks Malbec World Day – how to celebrate you ask. . .

Shall we start the day with a glass or Malbec with a bowl of breakfast cereal or a hearty plate of eggs & bacon?  And another glass (or maybe upgrade to a bottle) served with lunch, then finish off by uncorking a bottle of Malbec to accompany a BBQ steak dinner?  This idea of around the clock Malbec drinking, made many giggle & come up with wild & crazy ideas to celebrate.  To kick the festivities off & to learn first hand more about Malbec in Argentine, I attended in a tutored tasting last week with Ottawa Citizen’s wine writer& author Rod Phillips.

My place setting awaited 18 glasses of various wines from Argentina – Torrontes & Chardonnay (white wines) along with 5 Malbecs with prices ranging from $12 to $27 a bottle.  Then we had a taste of Shiraz/Syrah, Bonarda, Pinot Noir & red wine blends to give the tasting a POW at the end.  The 2 hours flew by & my mind was buzzing with Malbec facts that I looked forward to share.

For the past two years, Malbec World Day has marked the calendars on April 17th.  To celebrate in Argentine style, there are festivities all around the world hosted by Wines of Argentina.

I know no other grape that has a dedicated day that shines the spotlight on it.  Malbec  began its history as a grape variety grown in Cahors, France, then was uprooted because of the phloxerra insect that decimated many vineyards in Europe in the late 1800s.  Luckily, the Malbec  rootstock that the European immigrants brought with them on their journey to Argentina, were not infected by the bug that attacked the roots of grape vines.

Today, Malbec is Argentina’s iconic grape variety, although, it is now grown in many vineyards throughout the world – even as close to home as Niagara-on-the-Lake!  There are over 564, 000 acres of vineyards dedicated to Malbec stretching along the Andes Mountain Range from 22 to 42 degrees latitude. This region has great ripening conditions with its continuous stream of sunshine during the day (ideal for ripening) , then cooler nights (perfect to produce acidity in the grape clusters).  This combination of ripe red & black fruit in the aromas & taste coupled with soft tannins with underlying acidity, makes for a crowd pleasing wine.

The wines we sampled during this tutored tasting certainly pleased me!  Here are my tasting notes about the various Malbec we discovered:

Manos Negras Malbec 2008, $14.95
(LCBO part number #271295)
A basic Malbec with juicy aromas on the nose (cherry, raspberry jam). There is good structure in this Malbec with a taste of cinnamon hearts candy.

Catena Malbec 2009, $19.95
(LCBO part number 478727)
Big juicy with loads of aromas of damsom plum boysenberry + pomegranate that continue into the taste.

Dominio del Plata Ben Marco Malbec 2009
(only available on request from winery representative, $27.00)
My hands down favorite.  A BIG wine.  Dry with loads of tannins, aromas that remind me of a big bouquet of red roses.  Layered onto the wine is licorice + plums that continue into their taste.  Too bad this wine is not readily available at the LCBO.

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2009
(LCBO part number #723478, $19.95)
From the infamous Fuzion fame, Zuccardi family has made a slightly lighter styled Malbec  compared to the others I savoured. On your first sip, there is evidence that the wine has light tannins, black pepper aromas with a refreshing acidity that ends with black pepper finish.

Rutini Malbec 2009
See for yourself if you like this style of Malbec wines. Lighter again in weight compared to the other Malbecs that we sampled in this tasting.  The glass wafts of cherry & red berry aromas with light tannins & shorter finish.

After all of these Malbec wines, plus the other wines that were included in the 18 wines we sampled, no doubt our lips & teeth were ‘naturally coloured’ a shade of deep purple.  Want more info Malbec tips?  Contact me + I will offer you more Argentine recommendations from this delicious wine tasting.

However you celebrate it, Happy Malbec World Day.

Salud! – Debbie

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In the Heat of Argentina’s moment

Posted by Susan

Thursday, April 12th, 2012
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To prepare for celebrating World Malbec Day next week (on April 17), LCBO Vintages showcases wines from Argentina – many made with Malbec grapes. Argentina continues to grow as one of the world’s largest producers, ranking 5th behind France, Italy, Spain and the U.S. and producing wines of quality and value.  History tells us that as early as the 16th century, missionaries from Europe brought vines with them, Mendoza being one of the first areas where vineyards were planted, with the wines improving in quality to the point that they were recognized across the region.

In the late 1800s, immigrants from Italy and Spain brought several European varietals, planting them in fertile valleys where the indigenous peoples had created, hundreds of years earlier, an extensive system of irrigation canals to support their food crops. The control of water to the vines through flood irrigation (which also controls the pest phylloxera), along with ideal hot days and cool nights, create almost ideal conditions for grape growing.  Malbec, a relatively minor grape in Bordeaux blends, thrives in the hot dry climate, and has become Argentina’s signature grape, while red varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Bonarda are developing a reputation. Torrontès is the most widely planted white varietal.

As Argentina’s attention shifted from domestic demand to interntional export, well-established descendents of the original European immigrants, such as Nicolas Catena, played a key role in shifting the focus to premium varieties planted on specifically selected terroir, quality over quantity, focused vineyard management, and the introduction of new technology in the cellar. Substantial European investment has also brought large international producers such as Lurton to the country.

For those who seek out organic wines, the second feature of this Vintages release is for you.  Organic grape growing follows certain principles including the use of only natural fertilizers, no pesticide or herbicide use, and more intensive vineyard management, often including hand harvesting and lower crop yields.  Organic winemaking requires the winemaker to follows a set of specified regulations, such as the absence of any synthetic additives in fining, restricted use of sulfites, etc.

Biodynamic wines are produced using organic methods, but also treat the farm environment in a wholistic manner and follow a specific regimen laid out by the Demeter calendar.  Many winemakers using these methods do so because of their conviction that biodynamic practices produce better wines while ensuring a healthy environment.  Among the organic wines, Argentina is again represented with a Zuccardi Rosé, the country’s hot dry climate providing ideal conditions for organic production. Our selection for this release includes 6 wines, including 2 from the Argentine feature and one from the Eco-friendly feature.

Cheers and Enjoy! – Susan

Babich ‘Fernhill Individual Vineyard’ Viognier 2010

Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
$16.95 (Vintages #269282) 14.0% alcohol

A lovely Viognier offering subtle aromas of stone and tropical fruit with a whiff of sweet spice and floral. Rich, generous fruit flavours provide substantial texture, a mineral character presents, appropriate citrusy acidity assuring lovely balance. Finishing long and fruity, this is a gutsy wine that would be a match for lamb curry.




Pierre Sparr ‘Réserve’ Pinot Gris 2009
AOC Alsace, France
$14.95 (Vintages #983395) 13.5% alcohol
Yet another great value from Alsace, this wine is golden! Lovely floral notes mingle with aromas of stone and orchard fruit and a scent of lemon curd. A clean tangy texture offers a frame for almost honeyed fruit and notes of candied citrus. There’s depth, good balance, and long tasty finish. The perfect match for mildly spiced Thai food or for duck à l’orange.


Chakana ‘Yaguareté Collection’ Bonarda 2010

Mendoza, Argentina
$12.95 (Vintages #3525)) 13.5% alcohol
What a great value, and an opportunity to try this lesser known yet very flavourful varietal that has found its home in Argentina after migrating from Europe. The aromas express sweet ripe dark berries, notes of vanilla and spice reflecting the well-managed oak aging. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s well balanced, the ripe tannins and nice tangy texture matching the concentrated dark fruit and fine spices. Enjoy it with burgers or barbequed sausages. 



Fabre Montmayou ‘Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Mendoza, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #261891) 14.5% alcohol
Recipient of an international award, this inky wine is dry, medium-full bodied, and flows across the palate like satin. It’s concentrated and fruity, displaying subtle hints of herbs and cedar. The balance of supple tannins, fresh acidity and ripe dark berry fruit makes for an appealing taste experience, the lasting finish pleasantly dry and warm. Enjoy with full-flavoured meats or cellar medium term.

Bonterra Zinfandel 2009

Mendocino/Amador/Lake Counties, California
$19.95 (Vintages #530139) 14.5% alcohol
Bonterra has been using sustainable organic and biodynamic grape growing and winemaking methods for over 20 years. This award-winning organic wine is ripe and fruity on the nose, redolent with spice, vanilla and a slight floral note. Dry, medium-full bodied and focused, the core of dark juicy fruit is framed by fresh acidity and somewhat chalky tannins. Notes of char, pepper and spice garnish a lasting dry finish. Enjoy it with robust barbequed meats.




Torre Quarto ‘Bottaccia’ Uva di Troia 2008
IGT Puglia, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #161737) 13.5% alcohol
There’s a spicy floral hint here, along with delicious berry fruit, earth and sweet herbs. Dry mid-weight, this is a very nicely balanced wine with a fine smooth texture, almost floral flavours and a bushel of dark berry fruit garnished with spice and vanilla. It finishes fresh and fruity. Step out of your comfort zone and try this lesser-known varietal!



Grand Total: $95.70

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